Putin directed campaign to help Trump – report
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an effort to help Republican Donald Trump’s electoral chances by discrediting Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign, US intelligence agencies said in an assessment.
Russia’s objectives were to undermine public faith in the process, denigrate Clinton, make it harder for her to win and harm her presidency if she did, an unclassified report released on Friday by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said.
“We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election,” the report said. “We further assess Putin and the Russian government developed a clear preference for presidentelect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.”
Russian authorities had not commented on the report by yesterday.
The report, although it omitted classified details, was the US government’s starkest public description of what it says was an unprecedented Russian campaign to manipulate the American body politic.
The report’s conclusions, though lacking details of how the Russians may have relayed the material to WikiLeaks and others, will give ammunition to Democrats and Trump’s fellow Republicans in Congress who want tougher action against Russia, setting the scene for a potential showdown with Trump.
It could also give a boost to members of Congress seeking an independent, bipartisan investigation of Russian hacking.
Trump, who has developed a rocky relationship with US spy agencies and at times disparaged their work, defended the legitimacy of his election victory after receiving a nearly two-hour briefing on Friday on the report.
In a statement after his intelligence briefing, Trump did not squarely address whether he was told of the agencies’ belief Russia carried out the hacking.
Instead, he said: “Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyberinfrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organisations including the Democratic National Convention.
“There was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election, including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines,” Trump said.
The businessman, who is to be inaugurated as president on January 20, also said he would appoint a team to give him a plan within 90 days of taking office on how to prevent cyberattacks, but suggested that he would keep their recommendations secret.
The report did not reveal how the agencies collected the evidence underpinning their conclusions or the evidence itself – omissions likely to leave the report open to criticism.
Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, took issue with Trump’s comments.
“The president elect’s statement that the Russian hacking had ‘absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election’ is not supported by the briefing, report or common sense,” Schiff said.
NO EFFECT President-elect Donald Trump
‘INFLUENCER’ Russian President Vladimir Putin